how to talk to writers about their shitty books

So you bought your niece’s/accountant’s/childhood best friend’s book. Now what?

You’re not a writer, so you don’t often buy books written by people you know in real life. But now it’s happened. Some relative or acquaintance wrote a book and you felt duty-bound to purchase it. You’re a great human! But now what? Should you actually read it? What if it’s awful? What if it changes the way you see the person? Will they be mad if you don’t compliment it?

OK, real talk: They’re just glad you bought the book. That was super nice of you! Now you are perfectly welcome to put it on your shelf, admire the pretty cover, and think fondly of your writer friend when you notice it. No need to actually read it.

But you did read it? Oh, all right. Let’s see…

What! You loved it? That’s great! You can send the writer a quick message letting them know. It will cheer them up and make them feel all rosy inside.

Uh oh, you hated it? Well, that’s OK too. We’ve all got different tastes. You can simply never mention it. Do not speak of it. Or, if you absolutely must, just lie and say you haven’t had time to get around to it.

Or maybe you sort of liked it, but actually you wish the writer had just made a few different choices, like the plot sort of dragged and that one character was cardboard and—

STOP. Please do not treat the writer to your own personal MFA program. They are already getting nitpicky reviews from the likes of Kirkus and being tagged once a week in some bookstagramer’s nasty but beautifully photographed review. They probably are already thinking of ten things they wish they’d done differently.

Just tell them you enjoyed the book and leave it at that. Seriously. That’s all they need.

Great job, heroic book buyer! 😊

One Comment on “how to talk to writers about their shitty books

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